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Human Development Initiative

UCD’S International Development Studies Initiative: Consolidating and Expanding Capacity with Strategic Partnerships

The work of the Human Development Initiative is based on the four pillars of Research, Education, Partnership and Outreach. Exposing more academics and students to development issues will eventually lead to a greater understanding of these complicated and interconnected problems. A strong program of teaching and research in collaboration with southern partners will ensure that all stakeholders are involved and that solutions do not solely adopt top down approaches. Finally by engaging in public policy outreach, we hope support for this work will grow, ensuring that the resources required to tackle these issues are seen as a priority area which must be consolidated and enhanced to create an equitable global order.


Under the program of strategic cooperation between Irish Aid, the Higher Education Authority and the Research Institutes (2007-2011), the Human Development Initiative (HDI) at UCD coordinates a multi-disciplinary team of researchers working on poverty reduction in the Conway Institute (Medical Science), Geary Institute (Social Science), Food and Health Institute, John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies (Conflict Resolution) and the Earth Systems (Environmental and Agricultural Science). Our research focuses on important thematic priorities of Irish Aid, including:

  1. Education
  2. Poverty & Disadvantage
  3. Pro-Poor Growth
  4. Good Governance
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Water
  7. HIV/Aids
  8. Food Security

We are developing very close partnerships with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Malawi to establish a wide network with other centres of research excellence in Ireland and abroad to facilitate research on these thematic priorities.


Via the program offices of the Deans of Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine and Social Science we are expanding the Horizons modules (Development Education Electives) available to the undergraduate population. Apart from coordinating the self-financing development modules, UCD will intend to organize module credits for volunteer work out in Africa, via UCD Volunteers Overseas and SUAS.


We are developing very close partnerships with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Malawi to fund junior staff to undertake a Ph.D. working with UCD researchers on our thematic priorities.
We are expanding our research links to other Universities through our links with our Universitas 21 Network: and our Global Network of Masters in Development Practice,


The Development Studies Library, open to users both within and outside of UCD, was established by the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1987. This constitutes the largest source of research materials in Ireland on development issues available for consultation by policy makers, practitioners, and students. Currently the DSL it hosts the HDI and provides support for:

  • UCD’s Development Horizons Modules
  • Masters Programs and the TCD-UCD MDP
  • UCD’s Swedish-style PhD Program and traditional PhD Programs
  • Research Projects
  • Seminars and Conferences 

We intend to use the UCD James Joyce Library digital resources to disseminate our research papers, education and public policy outreach.